SEGA has announced Sonic 4: Episode I. It is, as GameSpot reports, a 2D downloadable game with 3D visuals.
The announcement is part of the Project Needlemouse build up SEGA has been pushing since last September 2009. "Needlemouse" refers to Sonic's codename when the game that would become Sonic The Hedgehog was initially being pitched.
While teasing this Project Needlemouse project, SEGA has stated that the game is a return to Sonic's 2D roots and that the blue hedgehog will be the only playable character.
The game will pick up after Sonic & Knuckles, but, as "Episode I" indicates, this is a new story arc.
When asked if this means the title is episodic, associate brand manager Ken Balough told GameSpot: "As mentioned, I think the best way to view it is as a first part in a much larger adventure. When Sega released Sonic 3, ultimately it was the part 1 of a story that saw its conclusion in Sonic & Knuckles. In that same spirit, Sonic the Hedgehog 4 is a bigger story, and this is that first chapter. I think it's also safe to say that by the end of the episode one, fans will be very excited to see what's in store for episode two!"
So that's a "yes" to episodic Sonic?
The game will feature traditional Sonic mechanics like spin dash, power sneakers and whatnot, but also an added "homing attack".
Sonic 4: Episode I will be heading to the PSN, Xbox LIVE Arcade and WiiWare this summer. It's possible to use motion control with the Wii version and SIXAXIS controls with the PS3 version.
Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 1 Q&A [GameSpot]